Back to Running (Part 2) - Running Physical Therapy at Breakaway Crofton
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Back to Running (Part 2)


In a previous post, we discussed when a postpartum Mom could safely return to running. Now, we will discuss the how!

A quick review: it is recommended that a postpartum Mom return to running between 3-6 months post-partum as long as they don’t have symptoms prior to, during, or following attempted running/exercise. Symptoms that tell you to DELAY returning to running (and check-in with a pelvic floor physical therapist) include:

  • Urinary (or fecal) leakage
  • Pressure/bulging/heaviness sensation in vagina or pelvic floor
  • Ongoing or onset of vaginal bleeding not related to your menstrual cycle after 8 weeks postnatal or during/after attempted exercise
  • Pain or any kind (your body is trying to tell you something)

If running is your goal, you do not need to wait until 3 months to begin to prepare your body for high impact exercise.

It is safe to begin kegels within the first week of delivery (once the catheter is removed) to begin strengthening your pelvic floor. Also in those first few weeks, think about engaging your core muscles while doing functional things such as lifting your baby out of the crib or getting up from a chair- every time you get up/sit down you are performing a squat!

When medically cleared by your OB (typically around 6 weeks), start a low impact cardiovascular program such as power walking or stationary biking. Add resistance training. A good rule of thumb is to start light- initially think no more than the weight of your baby in a car seat, then progress as you are able. For running, you need to strengthen your hips particularly- think squats, bridges, leg lifts and lunges (and remember that all this should be done without the above symptoms).

Now is it time to start running? CAN YOU: 

  • Walk for 30 minutes?
  • Balance on each leg for 10 seconds?
  • Perform a single leg squat 10 times?
  • Jog in place for 1 minute?
  • Hop in place AND jump forward 10 times?

If the answer is YES to all of these without experiencing any symptoms, you are ready to try running! When you do:

  • Start small, think 1-2 minuntes of running at a time at an easy pace (one that you could hold a conversation)
  • Set short-term goals such as a target distance or time
  • Your initial goal should be to train time/distance of the run before you challenge intensity (i.e. hills, speed, obstacles)
  • Progress gradually: total weekly distance/time should not be increased by more than 10% per week
  • Every 4th week you need to dial back the total weekly distance/time by 10% as an active recovery week (this is really important to prevent injury at any point in exercising)
  • Use walk breaks; a Couch-to-5K program is ideal (for example, you can start with a 5 minute walk warm-up, alternate 1 min run w/ 90 sec. walk for a goal duration, then end with another 5 min. walk to cool-down).

What about running with a stroller?

Safety first! Always go by manufacturer specifications, as most do not recommend jogging with a baby until the baby is at least 6-9 months old to protect the baby’s development. When you do run with a stroller, your speed and stride length will be less then when running alone. Therefore it takes more energy to run with a stroller than without. To feel most similar to running alone, you should run with both hands on the stroller (compared to one hand or the push/chase method).

If you try running and do experience symptoms, OR feel you would like additional guidance to get back to the activities you love, the team at Breakaway Physical Therapy is here to help! Reach out to our office to schedule a FREE Breakthrough visit to speak with a pelvic floor physical therapist to address your concerns so you can get back to doing what you love! 

Stephanie McKay

Stephanie McKay

Stephanie graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore in 2011 with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. During PT school, I completed a clinical internship in Women’s Health/Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy which gave me valuable clinical experience and opened my eyes to this much needed and often overlooked area of physical therapy. There are so many conditions/symptoms such as pelvic pain and incontinence which are mistaken for being normal just because they may be common in society, chronic, or attributed to pregnancy/childbirth, however this is not the case at all! I love that I can help my patients return to activities that they enjoy without symptoms. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, as well as exercising and being outside. I am excited to join Breakaway and to be a part of a team where there is focus on patient-centered care. I love to spend one-on-one time with my patients to ensure I am meeting their personal goals and to be able to give my patients the tools that they need so that they can maintain their progress even after discharge from PT.
Stephanie McKay

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